About a dozen years ago, I went to the Navajo Nation to do a story on a grant that provided school computers. Only problem was, there were no phone lines in the community so that the computers could be hooked up.
Times change. Computers don’t need phone lines anymore, but that doesn’t mean computer hookups are any less problematic. The Navajo Nation, like many reservations, comes up short in terms of broadband access.
But according to this story in the Salt Lake Tribune, some $32 million in stimulus funds will increase broadband access and high-speed Internet to the Nation’s 110 chapters.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke calls the move “absolutely essential for the health and the wealth of the Navajo Nation. Too many people are stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide.”
Only a few chapter houses have glacially slow dial-up, while many places on the reservation still lack phone and electrical service.
“I think it’s the greatest thing that’s happened,” Ken Maryboy, who represents three chapters in the Four Corners area, tells the Trib. “We are in dire need in communication. With Utah Navajos, there’s no such thing as fiber optics.”